Life is a journey of self-discovery. We are constantly trying to establish ourselves in society and become financially, emotionally and physically content and stable. The American dream has influenced us to become established with a career and family in order to find happiness. In doing so we are utilizing our identities in order to make a living. For example, my 18-year background in dance has allowed me to become a paid dance instructor. I am using my hobby to make money while I am in school and teaching is also a future goal of mine. As an emerging adult I am able to use what I identify with to earn money and gain experience in my career field. The struggles I face as I transition into adulthood do not compare to the struggles of adolescents.
Adolescence is a period where youth are at risk.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Risk is defined as “(exposure to) the possibility of loss, injury, or other adverse or unwelcome circumstance; a chance or situation involving such a possibility”. Adolescence is “an affliction that inevitably occurs regardless of social or cultural circumstances” (Cote). Adolescence is a period where youth are trying to develop identity and transition from childhood to adulthood. This period of life cannot be avoided; therefore it is up to you to proactively intervene in your children’s lives. Adolescence fits the category of risk.
- My first criterion for a “risk” is chance of losing something of value. One of the adolescent elements is risky behavior. Youth are easily influenced because they want to be socially accepted and seek approval from their friends. If parents do not show interest in their children’s social lives then their children are at risk of going down the wrong path. As children get older they become more socially influenced and this becomes more important than their home and parental influence. As a result adolescents become exposed to risky behavior in which they could partake if they lack parental guidance.
For example, the phone app “Kik” is very popular among adolescents because it is a new form of social networking that allows people to communicate via messenger without giving out your contact information. On January 14, 2014, Fox News released a news report on a sexual predator luring a teen using the Kik app: “39-year old Manuel Salto, a convicted sex offender, lured a 13-year old girl from Jenison to his home in Grand Rapids” (Spencer). This investigation revealed a relationship resulting in a pregnancy. Social media plays a major role in adolescents lives and helps them form their identities. Being active in social media also has risks and parents need to inform their children of the dangers of social media. Today’s rapid growth in technology allows youth to be influenced even more by pop culture and society because they have access to societal and social influence right at their fingertips.
Adolescents are easily influenced when they are misinformed of the consequences of their decisions. Parents need to know what social apps their children are active on and learn how the apps work and the risks their children are taking from signing up. The 13-year old on Kik lost her sexual innocence because of her poor judgment on social media. Adolescents need to be guided as they take on the dangers of society. While allowing them more social freedom you should still monitor their decisions and inform them of the risks they are taking.
- My second criterion for risk is the probability of uncertain future events. Adolescents tend to make impulsive decisions and think in the now instead of thinking long term. They make decisions without thinking of how it will affect them later, and as a result this could affect their futures. According to the World Health Organization, “Many adolescents face pressures to use alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs and to initiate sexual relationships at earlier ages, putting themselves at high risk for intentional and unintentional injuries, unintended pregnancies, and infection from sexually transmitted infections”. These are some examples of risks adolescents take that can impact their futures. Some that plan to go to college after they graduate high school see a change in their future events based on the decisions they make. For example, a girl that is sexually active in high school might get pregnant her senior year and may have to put college on hold because of her pregnancy. Her plans and priorities will change as a result of her decision-making and risk taking. Adolescents need to understand that the decisions they make will impact their futures. Irrational decision-making can result in an unexpected future. As parents you can guide young people in understanding that they can control their futures based on their decisions.
There is no doubt that adolescence can be perceived as an enlightening period for youth. Parents can form strict rules and provide maximum supervision to prevent adolescence from being a risky period. But in order for youth to practice and discover independence they have to make decisions on their own and as a result take risks. While parental control can lessen social harm in adolescence it cannot prevent the period itself from occurring. Adolescents will face pressure and take on challenges. If you are a strict and overprotective parent during adolescence then how will an adolescent transition into adulthood? As parents you should allow adolescents to make their own decisions while maintaining parental guidance and influence in their lives.
Cote, James. Adolescent storm and stress: An evaluation of the Mead-Freeman controversy. Psychology Press, 2013.
Graber, Julia A. and Julie C. Hill. “Childhood and the entry intro adolescence: A pivotal period in health-related behaviors and prevention.” Defining Prevention Science (2014): 59-86.
Mikami, Amori Yee, et al. “Effects of a Teacher Professional Development Intervention on Peer Relationships in Secondary Classrooms.” School Psychology Review 40.3 (2011): 367-385.
“risk, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web.
Spencer, Dave. “Police: Kik App Used by Sexual Predator to Lure West Michigan Teen to Home.” Fox 17 Online (2014).
World Health Organization. Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health. 2014. <www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/dev/en/>.